Concerts

How the One Direction Concert in Glendale Illustrates Everything Wrong with the World

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The singers were flawless, switching between who got to sing with flair. I didn't know any of the singers' names, so I decided to guess that, too. The one with the bandanna and the tattoos and the white t-shirt, he was The Greaser. The guy who most resembled Justin Timberlake had a broken arm (he later joked, "What happens in Vegas...") so I called him The Juggernaut. Then another guy with a white shirt appeared. Or did he just take off the bandanna? Wait -- here was the slightly darker-skinned one. I called him Exotico. Okay, now here's this guy with a guitar, following them around the stage like a puppy dog. Is he one of them? Or just in the band? He sang. He had a mic. So he was one of them. Wait, were there five? Where did this other one come from? Were they multiplying?

I gave up. They went back and forth across the catwalk while I watched the video stuff, which was most impressive, but I couldn't help feeling sad for whoever made it. I imagined he was some wannabe Paul Thomas Anderson who just didn't pay enough attention in English, so no studio wanted to fund his masterpiece. This is what he could get, so he took it, and still put his soul into it. Good job, dude.

The screen was now spinning skateboards and the song was poppy, so I figured it must be a song about skateboarding. I thought it might be equivalent to that Avril Lavigne song. Next was a harder beat, but not too hard. It might have been an attempt at rock, but also dance. It worked. I tapped and swayed as much as I felt compelled. It wasn't much, but it wasn't nothing.

It was then I noticed that some of the girls sitting behind me were sobbing. They didn't look the slightest bit embarrassed. These were the most joyous tears to ever exist. I wondered what was wrong with me. I was flooded with questions. Would I ever make a good dad? Would I do this for my daughter? I saw a lot of dads -- not one I would describe as miserable or unhappy. It was worse than that -- they looked dispirited. Whatever was in them that would feel something here had long ago left.

I imagined what it would be like if One Direction played at the Trunk Space and the Brian Jonestown Massacre was selling out seats like this. Who would I like more then? When was the last time I cried tears of joy, anyway? Don't young girls just cry all the time? Does this mean anything? Does anything mean anything? Most of all, I wondered -- why does One Direction exist?

It's not an accident and it certainly isn't a mistake. I don't think any of the five or six gentlemen on stage are idiots. In fact, they're probably really smart. The market exists, they filled it. They somehow made boy bands relevant again. That's amazing. I witnessed it. Cool, right?

The guitar-playing one ran and grabbed an acoustic and started strumming it, addressing the crowd with some preachy garbage about never forgetting where home is. "Don't Forget Where You Belong" is what he called the song he started playing. It was slow, so the entire audience held up their iPhones with the flashlight switched on. It's not very often you see an entire stadium filled with miniature glowing lights, each one in the hand of a little girl. I tried to feel profound about this, but for some reason couldn't.

Instead, I watched the band. Even from where I was sitting, which was pretty frigging close, the band looked tiny. They could have been U2 for all I knew. I wondered what it was like to be them, to learn these songs by heart and practice them every single day for weeks on end, all in preparation to leave behind your laughing friends and family on a nearly endless tour circuit, only to have 60,000-plus people not watch you perform. All eyes were on the catwalk, where the five or six dudes danced and sang and people cried some more. The guys in the band seemed talented. Good job, guys.

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Troy Farah is an independent journalist and documentary field producer. He has worked with VICE, Fusion, LA Weekly, Golf Digest, BNN, Tucson Weekly, and Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Troy Farah